Students gathered by the steps of Rosse Hall on Nov. 9 to participate in a walkout organized by Kenyon’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (KSJP) intended to honor the international shutdown called for by Palestinian organizers across the globe. Members of the large crowd held signs, listened to student and faculty speakers and eventually marched down Middle Path.
KSJP sent an email to the student body on Nov. 7, informing them of the event and encouraging a show of solidarity for the liberation of the Palestinian people. The walkout followed other KSJP events, such as a vigil for Palestine in late October and a screening of the 2019 documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom” earlier this month.
Students arrived around 12:45 p.m., creating a large crowd in front of Rosse Hall. Visiting Instructor of Religious Studies Max Dugan estimated that there were at least 250 people in attendance. With the help of a megaphone, students shared facts about Israel’s current occupation of Palestine and related personal anecdotes. KSJP then encouraged the crowd to stay for the marching portion of the demonstration.
The route took students and faculty around Chalmers Library toward the English cottages, past President Julie Kornfeld’s home in Cromwell Cottage and back down Middle Path toward Rosse again. The students organizing the event explicitly urged others to make no contact with Kornfeld’s house. During the march, chants such as “Free, free Palestine” echoed throughout the crowd.
More speakers presented after the walk, concluding with a professor’s sharing of his own song lyrics and encouraging a continued effort by Kenyon students to take action for Palestinian liberation.
While the walkout procured a large turnout, KSJP intends to continue events. “I still think KSJP needs to do more work to educate people on the power of divestment from Israel, and also how American citizens are complicit in buying products and paying taxes that fund Israeli genocide of Palestinians,” Sam Hafetz ’24, a member of KSJP, said. “The U.S. government has shown unconditional support for Israel, allowing for the Israeli state’s violent and genocidal nature to not be held accountable.” KSJP speakers further recommended that students sign up for the distribution list, boycott brands on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions list and contact their representatives to demand a ceasefire.
While many students feel there is still more to be done, the turnout of the walkout felt encouraging for a number of community members in attendance. “For a diverse, horizontally organized group of students to organize an action with literally hundreds of attendees — I have perhaps never been prouder of Kenyon,” Dugan said. “My only hope is that we as a community continue to empower these students who are working tirelessly to bring Kenyon College to its emergent future.”